Monday, October 30, 2006

Very Quick Blog Tonight

I have this program that goes online to something called an FTP site--which seems to be kind of like the Internet equivalent of a storage room full of files--and lets me download the files I need for different projects. Each company has its own FTP site and I get a user name and a password and plug that into my program and the program sends out its little Librarian codes or something and brings me back the file.

The point is to avoid inadvertantly emailing someone a confidential file or having a massive file bounce back because their mail box is full or whatever. You put these files on the FTP site and tell them they're there and then when they get a chance they go there and get the file you left for them.

There are a bunch of these types of programs and I gather that "Fetch" is a fairly popular one. I don't have that. I have Ipswitch WS_FTP Professional. I don't know why or how I got that one--I think I googled up some reviews or something and it got good reviews from someone--for all I know it was someone paid to give them a good review. But I paid for the thing and so far it's worked very well. I really have little clue as to how or what it does what it does, and yet it lets me do my job. I like that in a program. A high degree of "doesn't take much to figure it out"-ness.

I also like, and this is my only point in chatting about all this, the goofy noises it makes. I've had to download a gargantuan load of files in the last ten days as all the little (and big) projects I'm working on right now required me to get on an FTP site and download like 700 files each. Okay, maybe only 70--but a lot. When it first logs on to an FTP site it makes a noise like a Locamotive honking. "CHONG"--I can practically see its little train headlights. When something goes wrong (i.e., the FTP server is down and I can't log on) it makes a high-pitched little "uh-oh!" This is soooooo *not* professional that it makes me laugh every. single. time. and that's a better reaction than swearing--which is what I would normally do in a situation like that. Finally, every time it's done downloading a file it makes a noise that comes straight out of Space Invaders--if you're old enough to remember that sound. Sigh. I am their target market.


In this moment, and I have no idea how long this feeling will last, I'm actually feeling a little less guilty about having taken on too much work. 7 days into things and I haven't lost my mind yet. There's hope. But it's definitely a moment-to-moment thing. Part of the reason I'm feeling good today is because today was MONDAY. There is little to conflict with work on Monday. There are no music classes, no piano lessons, no football practices, no vet appointments. I avoid scheduling anything at all on a Monday. The twins were too sick to go to school and they missed the Halloween parade--but it's a snot-gushing cold--not a stomach virus or anything else that requires that I drop everything and just play Mother-Nurse all day. They were cheerful and played well together all day. They just weren't hungry and they went through a box of Puffs together. (Ben in particular produced copious amounts of snot. It was pretty dramatic first thing in the morning. Less so as the day went on.) They should be well enough tomorrow to go to music class and trick or treat. Which was the point of keeping them home today.

Alright, the document I was printing has printed and it's time to get back to work. Happy Halloween everyone. Tomorrow is a big and busy day.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Finished Objects

These are the twins' sweaters knit in Prairie Silk in Navy and Dough and Guilder Green and Dough. Max's sweater (in Brick and Dough) is about half done. The twins have been wearing these sweaters for three weeks now, but finally left them unattended long enough for me to get them washed and blocked and photographed.

What you have here is a photo of the boys with the little Ghosts they made. They then hung the ghosties in the cherry trees. Max is wearing his revised Halloween costume. We'd bought him a pirate costume but discovered to our dismay--when he went to dress in it for his piano recital on Saturday--that it was FAR too small. It would probably have fit one of the twins okay. We hit the Halloween stores again, but the college students had decimated the stores the week before and there was just nothing left but the nasty and the too-scary-for-this-crowd. We got to talking about what we had at home and when I mentioned the purple cape (knit for Chris by Alice), his face lit up.

So now he's going to be a super hero. He's wearing his blue swim goggles, a pair of Batman gloves, and the purple cape.

Feeling left out in the cool eye-wear department, Milo wore his goggles for the photo, too.

Ben? Ben is lucky he's not naked. Unable to find the fourth zarkin' shoe, Ben is wearing one sneaker and one slipper.

These are the pumpkins we finished last night. Click on the image to see it larger and with a tiny bit more detail. Mine is top left, Chris' is top right. Bottom row is Milo's, Max's, and Ben's. They're very large pumpkins and will look smashingfantastic Tuesday night.

These are Milo's finished "weekend" mittens, to replace the Target mittens that have been lost. They are "spiral rib" mittens and they look exactly like every pair of mittens that my Grandma Arganbright would make. Except these are hand-died 100% wool with some varigations, and Grandma Arganbright leaned towards simple, solid colors. I haven't a clue if the yarn was acrylic or wool or what. I was just glad that she knit so many of them that you could come in from playing in the snow and leave one pair on the radiator to dry, eat lunch, and grab a second pair from the mitten box in the hall closet on your way out the door.

I aspire to a mitten collection like that.

The finished mittens also mean that I'm all done with the math that had to get done and I have one last dragon to kill to have safely navigated the first quarter of the Month I Said Yes One Too Many Times.

In my defense, I had No Clue how big the last project was. I thought it was a few ancillary pages, not a whole 'nother Teacher's Edition, and by the time I figured that out, it was too late to say no. I *always* ask if it's "full time or part-time" but, not this time. I was painting the back bedroom when she called on my cell phone and she said, "Someone quit on me! Please write!" and I said, "Okay!" and I guess I should have asked a few more questions first. Oh, well. In this moment, things look doable as long as I don't do anything stupid. I'm a little worried about Ben and Milo's birthday party coming two or three days before it's all over--but not as worried as I'd be if I'd tried to hold the party here in our house.

For the record, absolutely noone without young children at home, noone who considers themselves a "neat freak", and noone with "time on my hands so I might as well clean" is allowed to come over for the next three and a half weeks. The carpet cleaner is coming in mid-December. You can come after then. In the meantime, everyone else should feel free to show up unannounced, and if you need anything to drink, I'll show you where the dish soap is so you can wash up a clean cup for yourself.

I am caught up on laundry, but Chris is behind in folding it. Neither of us is caught up with dishes. There was hope, but then there was the pumpkin project. I have dinner and overnight guests coming on Tuesday and the only reason I'm not in hysterics is because I know they'll all totally be fine with me ordering 6 pizzas that night if that's what's called for and because--well, I'm just pretty sure they like me okay in spite of my ugly carpet. They're looking for a warm, safe place to crash, not a page out of Better Homes and Gardens.

9:40 p.m. I love "fall back." It makes everything seem doable ;)

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Problem with July Is That It Is Too Hot for Wool

This is a problem because here we are at the end of October and in Central PA it is starting to get very cold. We have flurries forecast for Sunday and right now it's 41, only if you're outside in the drizzle and the rain it feels like 33. (I didn't make that up--that's what says. I believe instead of because accuweather's home office is here in State College and is not. says it's 40 degress but feels like 35. I was outside and I agree with accuweather.)

So this time of year I inevitably pull out the boxes and buckets of winter gear and find that some of the mittens never made it. I don't know where they went--Florida, maybe--but they're not here.

And then I think, no problem, I'll just knit up a pair this weekend.

But it *is* a problem because with all this work, there's no TIME to "just knit up a pair." That doesn't keep me from trying. I had a few minutes to kill waiting in the car this evening for Max to finish his football practice, so I cast on and did, oh, 5 rounds on a mitten cuff before Max climbed in the car. I'd had this silly idea I could whip up half a mitten (the missing mitten is Milo's--so we're knitting for a hand the size of a 5-yr-old, not an adult mitten. There's only 32 stitches in a round. I'm not using sock yarn. This is left-over single ply wool from one of the fall baby sweaters--orange.) during Max's practice. AFTER I ran a check by the preschool, picked up a bag of dog food at Petco, bought the Halloween candy and some color ink cartridges for the printer at Target, and hit Wegman's quickly because we were completely and entirely out of toilet paper, milk, peanut butter, and trashbags--any one of which we might have worked around individually, but combined meant that we were feeling pretty unprepared in the event of an emergency.

So I did all those things and then surprise, surprise, there was only fifteen minute of practice left. So I got five rounds done and that was it.

If I could start knitting mittens in July, I'd have enough for the whole family plus spares by the end of October!

But I can't. I know because I worked away on those Finnish mittens until it got really warm and then--the last thing I wanted to touch was a pair of mittens. Now knitting away on the Finnish mittens in front of the fire place sounds like a great way to spend the day--I just don't have the time.

So I put the orange Milo mittens next to the computer and I'm going to reward myself. I'll set little writing goals for tonight and tomorrow morning (Yes, I flaked on the emergency preparedness presentation because I am in danger of becoming hopelessly behind only 1 week into this four-week work marathon. Right now I am *not* hopelessly behind, but if I lose most of tomorrow to church and Max and most of Sunday to church and Max--I will be.) and every time I meet those goals I'll get to stop and go two rounds on the needles.

Oh--something new I learned today. Don't go to Petco on the Friday night of Halloween weekend in a college town. It's right between "Party Town" and "Michael's" and there's no parking. I often take Emily with me if I'm going to Petco (but not Thor, because Thor thinks it's perfectly acceptible to "mark" his territory on the end caps of every isle) but she would have been completely freaked out by all the college kids with masks and I'd have driven home with a 45-lb poodle in my lap.


Target already has their lawn-ornaments and lighting displays out for Christmas. It's temporarily hidden behind all the Halloween stuff, but I saw it. I saw the deer and the lighted trees and the sleds and the massive selection of exterior lights. Ooooh, it was a good thing finances are still tight right now. I stood awhile and surveyed the choices, rubbing my hands together gleefully (I didn't have any kids with me, so I could savor the moment.) I want new outside lights for the house this year. I want animated deer and even more little Christmas trees for the lawn. I am never, ever, ever, ever moving again and I have a maniacal obsession with conquering the neighborhood through light-up deer and epileptic-seizure inducing blinking, colored lightbulbs.

heh. heh. heh. <---maniacal laugh

What's My Personal Truth?

The world of textbook writing is one of a virtual reality. It seems real, kids think it's real, but it's not real. It's a world ruled by don'ts and nos. No violence, no back-talking, no sarcasm, no conflict*. No politics other than perfect democracy. No gray areas. No evolution. No pregnancy**. No extremes: No poverty, no wealth--often no discussion or storyline that implies going to college is a given.

We are in this position because in the United States our textbooks must be approved by government-run committees that are heavily influenced (harassed, bedeviled by) extremely powerful lobbying groups from both the extreme left and the extreme right.

Which is why you'll never find a story about modern Native Americans--unless it's been totally scrubbed clean of any actual problems.

I've had to absorb far more than the normal amount of new guidelines this week as two moderate-sized projects started this week. They were supposed to start weeks apart, but they didn't. So I'm scrambling and worried. AND a third, much smaller project started this week ALSO, which is providentially almost identical to what I was doing for a different company at a different grade level two months ago. So I'm swamped--but still treading water at this point.

Nevertheless, with all these do's and don'ts in my head, as I read through my horoscope online this morning it said, "Everything will be fine today as long as you are honest about your personal truth." And I thought, "What? What is my personal truth? That wasn't in any of the guidelines!"

My personal truth is that my property taxes are due in 8 weeks, I need gas money to get to Indiana in November, and my sons want to invite 20 kids to go bowling with them for their fifth birthday. They don't need that. They could do without that. But my twins are very happy, satisfied little people who have, up until now, limited their requests to things like "Can I have a peanut-butter bread, please?" So I find myself wanting to give them this party they have asked for. (Plus, the bowling alley people order the cake and clean up afterwards. That totally limits the number of people who will see my dog-vomit stained carpet.)

My personal truth is that I want more money in my emergency fund and I can't promise I won't worry and complain a bit here for the next month (as these are very short, intense assignnments), but I'm happy to have the work. That's my personal truth. I guess as long as I can remember that my real guidelines are the ones that come to me throughout the day for hugs and snuggles, then I guess I can live with the virtual reality for a little bit longer.

*unless it can be neatly resolved to everyone's satisfaction in a win-win way that reinforces judeo-christian values

**possible exception: brief, cheery mention of "my mommy's gonna have a baby."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Look! It's my baby nephew going for a run with his daddy! (And he's wearing the yellow sweater his overzealous aunt knit for him! That would be me.) Oliver is four months old now which means he can do things like roll over, make cool noises on purpose, party with his new friends at daycare, (Mommy had to go back to work part/time this week), and do some dance moves on his changing table while Daddy keeps him upright.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Knitting in the Rain

Today was the playoff for Max's undefeated football team. We won 38-0. I thought it was 50-0, but it turns out that the falling rain caused some sort of electrical issue with the scoreboard the last time I looked and it was racking up points for the home team faster than we could actually score them. Max got to play about 15 plays and I saw a lot of growth on his part from the last game I got to watch, which was almost two months ago.

I almost froze to death watching though. It was cold and it poured rain on and off through the game. I'd forgotten to bring a chair because today was the Primary Program--we'd decided to basically do both activities--so we went to the Primary Program (where all three boys really did a great job saying their lines) and then when it was over fled home to get Max changed into his uniform. We arrived at the game about 10 minutes after it had started. Accuweather claims it was 50 degrees during the game, but it felt 45. I kept going back to the truck and getting another layer to put on. Nothing really helped though. Sitting on a fedex box in the grass in the rain in 50 degree weather with a mild, but real, wind blowing is COLD.

So I did what any certifiable lunatic would do and praised God I'd had the sense to bring the UAB to work on. Here is the UAB drying by the fire.

And here is the section I got done today during the football game.

I know, it's not very much, but it was POURING, and frankly, even acrylic sticks to your fingers when it's wet. It's very slow going, no matter how loosely you hold the yarn, and no matter how you try to shorten the distance between the knitting bag (where it is mostly protected from the rain) and the needles, it's going to get wet in that kind of rain.

Hours later, it's still really wet.

After the game there was a pizza party, which I had no desire to go to, but what can you do? So we went and Max had a blast and I was mostly lucky in that I ended up at a table with two very chatty Dad's, so I could mostly listen and be entertained. Still, after the Primary Program and the cold and the rain--I was one burned-out introvert. I left there feeling completely fried an hour and a half later.

This is the Orenburg Shawl I knit on while at the pizza parlor. (YES, I KNOW. It's only 17.5 teeth and the finished right BORDER will need 33 teeth and there is still a left border, two smaller green border sections that will be picked up along the inside edge of each and then the whole MAIN BODY section and THEN 52 teeth for the top edge still to go . . . but I still harbor hope I can finish this by Christmas.)

This is the progress I made at the pizza parlor (meaning, I found a mistake and spent the entire hour and a half tinking back row after row until I got to the mistake, fixed it, and could go forward again. Try doing THAT while attempting to make conversation with strangers.)

We get a mix of rain and snow here in the morning. I don't expect it to stick--it's not technically freezing. I also have Max's first parent-teacher conference of the year. I figure the chances of Max's fifth-grade teacher bursting into tears this year are very, very, very slim, so it can only be an improvement over the first-grade conference that gave me post-traumatic parent-teacher conference disorder. The one that gives me facial tics when I think about going.

It is also our morning to bring snack to preschool again. I'm very concerned that my PTPTCD is going to cause me to forget the snack. It's times like this that I wish I were an extremely wealthy celebrity with a nanny to follow me around whose job it would be to remember the snack.

Completely as an aside--you know how I know that our Primary President's position was truly Inspired? She caught a Twin Switch today. Ben saw me as he was walking up to the podium and paused to consider whether he could maybe make a run for it and get to me before any other adult caught him. In that time, Milo (who knows he is destined for stardom--or at least for a star on the walk of fame as a director) walked ahead of him. Ben glanced at the mike and decided to try to make a break for Mom on the way back, after his 15-seconds of fame. He followed Milo up.
But the Primary Program is made possible by having the entire thing written down in a binder, and whenever anyone younger than seven or so goes up the podium to speak into the mike, there is a Sunday School teacher there to whisper the words in his or her respective ear. (Okay, the ones that I personally think are the funniest are the kids who then repeat what they hear ALSO in a whisper, rendering the whole thing inaudible--but not pointless! The kid's contribution will still be remembered.)

So anyway, having a kid out of order means that the wrong line is going to be whispered in the wrong kid's ear. This might not be an issue with a more, um, flexible kid. But *my* kid would have turned and scolded the poor Sunday School teacher with an imperious, "THAT's not MY line, I'm [insert correct twin name here]!!! THAT is [my brother's] line!" So I actually started to get up myself to return the kids to the proper position (because it was obvious that the Sunday School teacher who was getting ready to do the prompting, hadn't noticed the switch) when the Primary President ran up there and switched the boys herself. Congratulations Primary President. That brings us up to like five or six adults on the planet who can tell them apart at a glance. (There must have been some confusion at Ben and Milo's recent picture day as the preschool teacher felt compelled to tell Chris that the boys were VERY identical that day. I'll take some blame. I had Chris send them in the green knit sweaters, which are the same.)

It's a big week coming up with lots and lots and lots of work and more football practice (will it NEVER end?) and more piano (recital next Saturday, also emergency preparedness presentation for which I'm completely unprepared) and another trip to the barber (for Max) and a picture day (for Max) and I swear--I'm starting to look forward to the holiday season like it'll be some sort of RELAXING period just because I know for a FACT that it won't involve any football practice.

Oh yeah, I gotta call around this week to find a place for the twins' birthday party, too. I agreed to let them have a "big" party this year, so now I need a place (I'm thinking the bowling alley) and probably a body part to sell to raise the money.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Drafty and Dodging

There is a massive draft coming in through the basement window above my desk. I want to cover it in plastic and get rid of the draft, but before I can do that, I have to remove the wire thingy that boosts my cell phone coverage in the basement. So, maybe tomorrow. I'm not going outside in the dark to do that.

It's so definitely creeping towards winter here. Creep, creep, creep. I really want to crank up the wood stove (but can't, because it feels like I'm stuffing dollar bills into the firepot when I do), and I really want to creep upstairs and knit happily on one of my blankets all night (but can't, because I need to send the stuff on my desk out by fedex tomorrow and I'm only halfway through).

Ah, Chris informs me that I am a grouchy, jetlagged person and I am being dispatched to bed "with the kids."

This both pleases and annoys me. "Ooh, goody! Early bedtime!" and "Hey! You ain't the boss of me!" (and also, "Okay, but you have to come tuck me in.")

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Don't Blog for Me Argentina

I'm home! Much wallpaper was stripped and much primer and paint was applied. The finished product was an improvement over the original. We finished with enough time to move most of the furniture back into place, replace all the hardware, put up some new curtains, and eat a yummy salad at a nice local diner.

I couldn't have done it without the help of my Dad. My MIL was sick to death of the mess by the end, but somehow survived. And now I'm home and trying to get caught up on work. The only real drama? We were the fourth car back from a horrible traffic accident on a small highway on the way home. We weren't involved at all and by the time we came upon the accident a touring bus (vehicle #1) had positioned itself diagonally across the two lanes--completely blocking the kids' view of the twisted hunk of metal that had once been one of the cars. We saw the first confused-looking cop car though. We saw the fire truck and ambulence arrive. We saw the life-flight helicopter arrive (holy cow, that thing was seriously high tech). We watched the two "tow-trucks" arrive and haul the first vehicle away and the twisted pile of metal away. I prayed for the mothers who would get phone calls tonight. I prayed for the doctors who would receive the helicopter. I prayed for whomever was inside. There was plenty of time for that--we were there an hour and a half before the road reopened. We got home and put the kids to bed immediately--at 1:30 a.m. I let people wake naturally this morning. Max got to school at 10 a.m.

In the next 7 days I have gobs of work, two parent/teacher conferences for the three kids, the church primary program, a football game, GOBS of work, and all the usual kid activities. I bought more apples to make more pink apple sauce for Christmas. We got pumpkins for the obigatory pumpkin carving. We got halloween costumes (how I could have saved if I could sew). I didn't get any candy yet, but there's still time, right?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Works in Progress

Today's work in progress is the renewing of my mother-in-law's kitchen. We got loads done--started the day at Home Depot and, with the help of my Dad (and my step-mom bringing in lunch for us all), got the wall paper completely stripped from the walls (and a lot of shelves) by 6pm.

Tomorrow I plan to get the back bedroom completely stripped and the kitchen should get at least the first coat of primer.

I leave you with a photograph of the big sister/little sister sweaters I finished earlier this week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Darn that wall

I was going along so nicely. Canned 6 qts of apple sauce. Cleaned toilets and the toilet area in both bathrooms. Did third load of dishes for the day. Nth load of laundry. It was while I was poking around in the closets trying to find where I stashed the big suitcase that out of nowhere WHAM I hit a wall.

Now I am just very tired.

I have this list of things to pack and I really, desperately want to just, um, do them tomorrow.

So here is my tutorial on how to can your own apple sauce.

I used cortland apples. Cortland apples are on the tart end of the scale, and they have this incredibly white flesh that resists browning. The twins and I hit the fruit farm last weekend and they had half a bushel of cortlands for $6. So even though I hadn't any intention of canning more apple sauce--well at that price and with such nice apples . . . I had to.

So you start by washing the fruit and chopping it into quarters and taking out the stems. That's all you really have to do. You don't have to core or peel apples for apple sauce. It does mean an extra step later, but I've long ago decided that the mess and time involved in straining cooked apples is FAR less than the mess and time involved in coring and peeling a gazillion apples.

All but a dozen of the half bushel will fit in my pot. You dump all the pieces, seeds and all, in the pot and then just enough water to keep the apples from sticking to the bottom. Turn heat up to medium high. Get a BIG stick of some sort to assist you in turning the pile of apples.

They'll start to cook down.

And then cook down further.

And then start to look kind of saucy. Simmer now until everything is cooked through.

Then dump into a clean bowl. Usually I strain the apples back into the same pot and then can in a different pot, but today I wanted to can in the pot I'd been cooking in, so I strained into a new clean pot. This is a bad picture of a 12-qt bowl full of unstrained apple sauce.

I use the bottom of a clean plastic or glass cup to smoosh the stuff through the strainer.

When I was done straining, Thor got to lick the bowl.

With cortlands, as the apples cook the skin gives off a natural red dye and combined with the white flesh and its tendency to not brown, instead of getting brown apple sauce, you get this delightful pink. With the flash it looks like brains or something--there's a better color later.

And this is what my aunts would probably call "the poop." It's the fiberous stuff left over. That's a two-quart bowl and it's maybe half full.

At this point you add sugar to taste. You start with about a quarter cup of sugar per quart, although with the cortlands, I found I needed a lot more than that. If you use a sweet variety, you might not need any sugar at all. I tend to lean towards less sugar, but this batch needed more sugar and used three cups of sugar, or about a half cup of sugar per quart.

Bring the apple sauce back up to a boil and simmer and stir about five minutes. That probably does something to the sugar so it sets in the appropriately apple saucy way. I don't know--I just know that's how it's done.

Pour hot apple sauce into hot canning jars, adjust two-piece lids, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.

When you're done you'll have incredibly tasty and surprisingly pretty-to-look-at cortland apple sauce.

I'm thinking of going back to the fruit farm when I'm back from California and getting a bushel and making everyone pink apple sauce for Christmas. Vitamin C, fiber, sweet tooth, pretty pink tint--it has all you could want in a Christmas present don't you think?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Does This Not Make You Hungry?

I just got an email from my Aunt regarding our planned Thanksgiving festivities. This all started because I cancelled on them for Labor Day. So I invited myself for Thanksgiving and then my brother and sister-in-law confirmed they could come and now--it's a party!

Wendy, Ryan, and Spencer are making noises about coming for Thanksgiving- that means Connie, Denny and Kyle will probably come also. I think we are up to 14 eating people (11 or 12 who will eat the turkey). I think I have the chairs handled; also the desserts: pumpkin pie, cherry pie (Connie- she got some good ones from N. MI), apple pie, and cheesecake (I made one recently and fell in love with it again). We can do a blueberry if you think we need it- or a blueberry sauce for the cheesecake. My cheesecake is very basic.

You are on for the crusts, although Connie and I do a fair job of it ourselves. Vic is getting the name of the Amish farmer for the turkey. I could find it, but he is excited about helping. I am waiting to order the turkey until I confirm Wendy and Ryan. Getting the turkey is an adventure. It is OFF a road that makes 100 N. [Ed: 100 N. is a rural gravel road] look like a 4 lane. I am thinking 1st and second generation [sleep] at the farm, 3rd and 4th at a nearby motel (I will review the options latter). Mom's room set up with 2 portacribs for naps during the day. (I have one borrowed already). That will be the quiet room during the day for all who need a quiet time. That's just my thought on first pass.

I'm so excited I could practically get up and start cooking now. But it also makes me think . . . how can I get my cousin John to come and bring *his* baby? Then we'd have all the representatives of Generation 4 there and we could get a nice picture of them all.

In the meantime, I am officially feeling (mentally) much better. Although somebody needs to please show up and take this bag of candy corn away from me. Speaking of compulsive eating, will someone please tell me how to get my miniature poodle to please leave the baby alpaca yarn alone?

Beautiful Sunday Morning

It's sunny and cool right now, although warming up quickly. It's supposed to be back in the low 70's tomorrow and Tuesday before dropping down into the low 60's and then settling into the 50's. I love autumn on the east coast. I love the changing colors and I love the cool temps and I love how everything starts to slow down a bit. (Only two to three more weeks of football, yay! Unfortunately, they're still unbeaten--that stretches the season out another few weeks. I swear if Max were incredibly excited about their winning streak and the additional practices that I'd be there with my pom-poms on--okay, no pom poms, but I'd be cheering. But he's not. He's over it and looking forward to getting his life back when the season is over.)

Speaking of seasonal changes, I have to say that I'm really looking forward to the first week of January and the likely change in worship schedules so that our ward has the morning slot again. It's just so much easier to keep a wiggly kid reverent at 9:30 am than at 12:30 pm.

The twins have memorized their parts for the primary program. Max is still working on his part. Today is practicing for the program and then the actual program is in another two weeks. This is good. We need the remaining two weeks to get Max ready.

Work took a sudden and surprising turn on Friday. It's not bad--it's probably good for all involved, but it is a change in people I'm working with and I wish it hadn't happened a few days before I leave for California for a week to help Grandma Gaye paint her house in preparation for selling it in the spring. I had planned on bringing work anyway, and I let the other company I'm working with right now know I can't take on anything new until I get back from the trip, so the stage is set for a productive, but not overly pressured trip. But I'm still a little nervous about it and I'll feel better when I get back and can say it all got done.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

In Search of Horse Manure

I meet the nicest people trying to get more horse manure.

The first person I met is named Patty and she lives on a bit of land further west of State College. She has two horses and a lot of horse manure and sometimes hay. She's very sweet and I met her through freecycle.

Then today I had another gal call me and offer me some horse manure and she has hay for me, too. And she gave me directions out to her place in stormstown. The directions were very funny and I look forward to meeting her on Saturday when I go out there to pick up the manure and hay.

My garden is very lucky.


Today I was Mrs. School Volunteer Mom. I started out by helping out at the book fair this morning. Then came home, worked for a bit, made everyone lunch, and went back to school where I became "Paint Lady." It was my job to paint a hopscotch grid and a 4-square court.

The hopscotch grid took--no joke--an hour and a half to tape. I had no idea. The 4-square court took about 30 minutes to tape out and even so, one line is a little wonky. But by then, the clouds had rolled in and Mother Nature had served notice.

I stirred the paint, poured it into a cup, and did the fastest job of painting concrete I've ever done.

I think it was worth it. I won't know till we see what it looks like tomorrow. When I left I'd cleaned everything up and all the tape was up--but I don't know for sure that all the nooks and crannies were totally dry. The paint was a fast dry variety that was supposed to be good to go in a half-hour. But the concrete pits held paint and although I didn't see a true rain until more than two hours later--I can't help but wonder if we won't find streaks of orange day-glo paint bleeding out from the lines in the morning.

Oh, well. The hopscotch court is a work of art if I do say so myself--although it now needs stenciled numbers. For the time being, kids can write in the numbers with chalk.

Monday, October 02, 2006


The Yarn Harlot went and got married to her Long Time Companion and that somehow helps the state I was in earlier.

But jeez. Anyone remember Anne Murray's "A Little Good News"? It was a cross-over hit in 1994.

I rolled out this morning
Kids had the mornin' news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talkin' 'bout the
fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawkin'
'bout the bad economy
It's gonna get worse you
see, we need a change in policy

There's a local
paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story's
one more than I can stand
Just once how I'd like to
see the headline say
"Not much to print today, can't
find nothin' bad to say", because

Nobody robbed
a liquor store on the lower part of town.
Nobody OD'ed,
nobody burned a single buildin' down.
Nobody fired a
shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain.
We sure could use
a little good news today.

I'll come home this evenin'
I'll bet that the news will be the same
Somebody takes a hostage, somebody steals a plane.
How I wanna hear the anchor man talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care
Whoa, tell me

Nobody was assassinated in
the whole Third World today
And in the streets of Ireland,
all the children had to do was play
And everybody loves
everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little
good news today.

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the
lower part of town
Nobody OD'ed, nobody burned a
single buildin' down
Nobody fired a shot in
anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little
good news today.


It was a Monday, so the littles went to preschool, Max went to school, I worked for awhile and then worked in the yard and then worked on the computer and then worked in the yard. Now work is caught up, my legs are sore from the yard work, and tomorrow is looking promising.

I have no title.

I am so saddened by all the school shootings lately. Six innocent girls. What kind of monster . . . .

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Very odd. The wrong link is below and Blogger won't let me edit the post. Here is the correct link for Folk Shawls:

Ugly Acrylic Blanket for the Soul

Max always has to be at a football game 90 minutes before it actually starts, so usually the parent that is *not* going to actually sit through the game will go and drop him off and then the parent that is going to the game goes an hour later. Last week Chris and L.R. were going to the game, so I dropped him off. It was a cool and somewhat rainy day and as I was leaving the parking lot I spied a grandma and grandpa (either that or a couple that really, seriously waited to have that last child) getting their bleacher cushions out of the back of their SUV and a neatly folded ugly acrylic blanket.

I immediately recognized the blanket as my step-mother has that EXACT blanket, probably knit by her mother or one of her relatives or perhaps she knit it herself in college. The blanket is small knit squares (I want to call them granny squares, except that I think granny squares are specifically those crocheted squares with the circles in the middle that hypnotize young children into poking their fingers through all the holes) that are then knit together with black yarn.

Because the yarn is 100% manmade, the colors never fade, it is fire proof (or at least fire resistant), and yet it's still pretty warm. It can be tossed in the washer and dryer--so it's perfect for a cool, rainy Saturday-morning football blanket.

I immediately wanted my very own Ugly Acrylic Blanket (UAB). I took the twins to Michael's. We bought more washable tempra paint, two empty boxes for G'wama Judy and G'wama Donna (sorry G'wama Gaye, but you know your birthday is coming, and that's all I can say), and a bunch of super bulky (2.5 stitches to the inch) Wool-Ease which is 20% wool and 80% acrylic. Although the blanket that I was inspired by has every color under the sun on it--I'm just not that manic right now. I went with Navy Blue and "Fisherman" (ivory). It doesn't say, "1968" in quite the same way that the blanket I was inspired by does--but then, I myself am vintage 1968, so it's okay that my blanket *does* say "State College townie."

Because I am never, ever, ever, ever moving again and so a State College townie is what I am and my UAB can scream that.

I brought it home and dug out my longest set of addi turbos which I got probably two years ago because I wanted to knit the Ruana shawl from the book Folk Shawls.

I didn't end up knitting that shawl because I didn't have quite enough yarn that would go together in my stash at the time, but I did still have this 47" size 10.5 needle that I thought would work. I cast on, knit on it here and there this week--it was slower going than I thought.

So this morning I knit another two rows on it and then had to admit that the problem was that the yarn was too big for size 10.5 needles. I went back to desk, opened up the super secret closet under the stairs and dug through my super secret stash of knitting needles and was super pleased to find a 30" set of size 15 needles. So I pulled out the 4 inches I'd done so far (see, no big deal really--I was busy working on the baby sweaters this week, hadn't made a lot of progress on UAB anyway) and cast on again. Perfect. I've now got 8" done on the new version and although I don't hold out a lot of hope of having the UAB done in time to use it this football season, I'll bring it with me on my painting vacation later this month and work on it when I can't handle the strain of following a chart anymore.

I really, seriously need to make some Orenburg progress or I'm up a creek.

I picked up the red and white sweater that I'm making for Max today, but after a few rows put it down again. I've already finished the sweaters for Ben and Milo--except for the final two seams of mattress stitch. I *hate* finishing sweaters. I think the reason I so adore that raglan-sleeve pattern that I used for all the baby sweaters is because there is one 1-inch seam to sew, two 1.5 inch seams to graft--and some ends to weave in. No LONG torturous seams to mattress stitch.

But the fact is that if there's a serious problem with the pattern, I'm more likely to know that if I actually finish one of the sweaters and put it on a child. So I did. I finished the sweater for Ben. It's fine. It's not perfect--the sleeves are a wee bit long, but Ben doesn't care and in spite of how infernally hot it must be has insisted on wearing it for the remaining hours of the day.

At some point in the manufacturing of the sweater, he heard me say that it would be itchy against the skin, so it's an "outdoor" sweater. The kind you wear over other clothing and just to get from point A to point B--albeit handsomely.

Well, Ben disagrees that it's an outdoor sweater, but he's happy to call it, "My itchy sweater." "This sweater is soooo itchy," I hear him tell Milo, and petting the sweater over his 4-yr-old belly adds, "and it's soooo soft!" When I ask him to take it off at the dinner table so as not to get chili spilled on it, he asks after dinner, "Where is my itchy sweater? I want it back. I want to put it on."

Clearly the boy is a little unclear on exactly what "itchy" is. Whatever. Everytime they fall in love with a sweater I make for them I want desperately to quit my job and do nothing but knit for them full time.

Of course, this created trauma in the form of "Where is *my* itchy sweater?!?" from Milo, so I am under strict orders to sew up the sides of the green and white sweater tonight so that they can wear their "shwetters" (Milo's pronunciation) to preschool together tomorrow. This is a problem as I would really like to wash and block and photograph both sweaters before they get tempra paint on them.

Since I was making so much progress in sewing up things, I even brought up another sweater I'd knit last February and which also only needs to be sewn up to be done--but it's already 9:21. I don't think it's going to get done tonight.

Sunday Afternoon

It's a quiet Sunday afternoon--cool, but there is sunshine peeking through the clouds and illuminating the fall foliage. It's a beautiful scene out my window.

Chris and Max had a very nice afternoon of football. His team beat the only other unbeaten team in the league. Unfortunately for us, this rather likely lengthens the season by a playoff game and possibly a championship game. Football is very time consuming and it starts to get to be a bit much come October.

I listened to the General Conference on the Internet. I have my knitting and the only thing on my to-do list was to can a batch of beans for the day. I gathered quite a bit from the GC talks and am pondering their meaning for me.

ponder. ponder ponder.

Off to do that.